STD Symptoms in Women

An overview & list of STD symptoms in women

Most STDs don’t produce symptoms or, if they do, result in vague or generic flu-like symptoms that could be the result of many different conditions. It can be difficult to determine the cause of symptoms due to an STD without getting tested. Women are more likely than men to suffer symptoms such as bumps, itching, or burning urination due to a sexually transmitted disease/infection, especially in the genital region. Without those first noticeable signs of an STD, infections often go unnoticed and untreated, which can cause long-lasting or even irreversible effects if left untreated.

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Common STD symptoms in women:

  • No symptoms
  • Discharge (thick or thin, milky white, yellow, or green leakage from the vagina)
  • Vaginal itching
  • Vaginal blisters or blisters in the genital area (the region covered by underwear)
  • Vaginal rash or rash in the genital area
  • Burning urination
  • Painful urination
  • Pain during intercourse

Less common STD symptoms in women:

  • Bleeding or spotting between menstrual cycles
  • Painless ulcers on the vagina
  • Pelvic pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Sore throat (after oral sex)
  • Swelling of the joints (knee, elbow, etc.)
  • Rectal pain, bleeding, or discharge (after receiving anal sex)

When symptoms do occur, they typically appear within days or weeks of exposure to an STD. Often, symptoms never appear or go unnoticed. Even if an infection never results in obvious symptoms, the STD can still be transmitted and progress into a more serious condition that may result in irreversible side effects. Regular comprehensive STD testing is the only way to guarantee a clean bill of sexual health. It is especially important to get tested for STDs after risky or unprotected sexual contact.

Resources

Medically Reviewed by J. Frank Martin JR., MD on Jun 18, 2019

Written by Lauralei Like on July 12, 2017

In This Section

  • Chlamydia
  • What are chlamydia symptoms?
  • Should I get tested for chlamydia?
  • How do I get treated for chlamydia?
  • How is chlamydia prevented?

People with chlamydia usually don’t have symptoms, so most people don’t know they have it. If you do notice signs of chlamydia, get tested. Here’s what to look for.

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Chlamydia usually has no symptoms.

Chlamydia can be sneaky, because you probably won’t have any symptoms you can see or feel. Sometimes the signs of chlamydia are so mild that people don’t notice them, or they mistake the symptoms for something else. Most of the time, people don’t even realize they have chlamydia — that’s part of the reason it’s such a common infection (and why it’s so important to get tested).

Chlamydia can lead to serious infections and even infertility if you don’t treat it. But it’s usually easy to cure it with medicine if you catch it early. This is why regular STD testing is so important, no matter how healthy you feel.

Signs of chlamydia

If you do have chlamydia symptoms, they can take several weeks after you got the infection to show up. Symptoms of chlamydia can appear in both men and women, including:

  • pain or burning while peeing

  • pain during sex

  • lower belly pain

  • abnormal vaginal discharge (may be yellowish and have a strong smell)

  • bleeding between periods

  • pus or a watery/milky discharge from the penis

  • swollen or tender testicles

  • pain, discharge and/or bleeding around the anus

If chlamydia infects your eyes, you may have redness, itching, or discharge. Sometimes chlamydia infections in the throat cause soreness, but it’s rare.

If you or your partner has any of these symptoms, go to a nurse, doctor, or your local Planned Parenthood Health Center. It’s especially important to get checked out if you’re pregnant.

Remember, most people don’t show any signs at all when they have chlamydia. That’s why the only way to find out for sure if you have chlamydia is to get tested.

More questions from patients:

What are chlamydia symptoms in men?

Most people with chlamydia don’t have any symptoms. Or if they do get symptoms, they show up weeks after having sex without a condom.

Even without symptoms, if you have chlamydia and you don’t get it treated it can damage your reproductive system, cause epididymitis, or lead to infertility. That’s why it’s so important to get tested for STDs if you’ve had sex without a condom.

Chlamydia symptoms in men can include:

  • Pus, or watery or milky discharge from the penis

  • Pain or burning when peeing

  • Pain and/or swelling in one or both testicles

You can also get chlamydia in your butt, usually from receiving anal sex. Symptoms aren’t common, but you might notice:

  • A painful or itchy anus (butthole)

  • Discharge or bleeding from your anus

  • Diarrhea

  • Swelling in or around your anus

Chlamydia can also infect your eyes, causing redness, itching, or discharge.

Regardless of where on your body they show up, chlamydia symptoms in men are most likely to appear in the morning.

If you notice any of these symptoms, if your partner has been diagnosed with chlamydia or another STD, or if your partner has symptoms, check in with your doctor or nurse or local Planned Parenthood health center right away.

What are chlamydia symptoms in women?

Most people with chlamydia don’t have any symptoms. Or the symptoms show up weeks after having sex with someone who’s infected.

Even without symptoms, untreated chlamydia can damage your reproductive system, cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or lead to infertility. That’s why it’s so important to get tested for STDs, especially if you’ve had sex without a condom.

Chlamydia symptoms in women can include:

  • Abnormal, yellowish, or strong smelling vaginal discharge

  • Swelling inside your vagina/painful sex

  • Pain or burning when you pee

  • The urge to pee more than usual

If the infection spreads beyond your vagina and cervix, symptoms of chlamydia in women may include:

  • Pain in your belly or lower back

  • Nausea or a low-grade fever

  • Bleeding between your periods or after vaginal sex

You can also get chlamydia in your butt, usually from receiving anal sex. Symptoms aren’t common, but you might notice:

  • A painful or itchy anus (butthole)

  • Discharge or bleeding from your anus

  • Diarrhea

  • Swelling in or around your anus

Chlamydia can also infect your eyes, causing redness, itching, or discharge.

If you notice any of these symptoms, if your partner has been diagnosed with chlamydia or another STD, or if your partner has symptoms, check in with your doctor or nurse or contact your local Planned Parenthood health center.

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How Can I Protect Myself From STDs?

Here are some basic steps that you can take to protect yourself from STDs:

  • Consider that not having sex or sexual relations (abstinence) is the only sure way to prevent STDs.
  • Use a latex condom every time you have sex. (If you use a lubricant, make sure it is water-based.)
  • Limit your number of sexual partners. The more partners you have, the more likely you are to catch an STD.
  • Practice monogamy. This means having sex with only one person. That person must also have sex with only you to reduce your risk.
  • Choose your sex partners with care. Don’t have sex with someone whom you suspect may have an STD. And keep in mind that you can’t always tell by looking if your partner has an STD.
  • Get checked for STDs. Don’t risk giving the infection to someone else.
  • Don’t use alcohol or drugs before you have sex. You may be less likely to use a condom if you are drunk or high.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of STDs. Look for them in yourself and your sex partners.
  • Learn about STDs. The more you know, the better you can protect yourself.

What are the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

People with STDs/STIs may feel ill and notice some of the following signs and symptoms:1,2

  • Unusual discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Sores or warts on the genital area
  • Painful or frequent urination
  • Itching and redness in the genital area
  • Blisters or sores in or around the mouth
  • Abnormal vaginal odor
  • Anal itching, soreness, or bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever

In some cases, people with STIs have no symptoms. Over time, any symptoms that are present may improve on their own. It is also possible for a person to have an STI with no symptoms and then pass it on to others without knowing it.

If you are concerned that you or your sexual partner may have an STI, talk to your health care provider. Even if you do not have symptoms, it is possible you may have an STI that needs treatment to ensure your and your partners’ sexual health.

Citations

Open Citations

What are the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

What causes sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

Why are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) of particular concern for pregnant women?

What are some types of and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

How do health care providers diagnose a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

Is there a cure for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

What are the treatments for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

s (STIs)?

STD Symptoms in Men

Male STD Warning Signs & Symptoms

Many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are characterized by ambiguous or even flu-like symptoms in the early stages, making it difficult to specifically identify a sexually transmitted infection. For men, especially, a lack of symptoms is not a reliable measure of whether an STD is present. The symptoms that usually alert men to the presence of an STD are bumps or rashes on the genitals, discharge, discomfort or itching in the penis or testicles, or pain while urinating or ejaculating. Even a symptomless STD infection can have long-lasting or irreversible effects if left untreated.

Getting tested is not only quick and easy, it’s the only way to know for sure if you do or do not have an STD.

Put Your Mind at Ease Today

or call 1-800-456-2323 or start a Live Chat

Common STD symptoms in men:

  • Being asymptomatic or experiencing no symptoms at all
  • Blisters on or around penis
  • Spots, bumps or lesions on the penis
  • Discharge (clear, white, or yellow)
  • Oozing from the tip of the penis (thick or thin)
  • Painful urination
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Itching on the tip of the penis
  • Rash on the penis, testicles, or groin

Less common STD symptoms in men:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Chronic flu-like symptoms
  • Pain in the testicles
  • Swelling of the testicles
  • Swelling of the epididymis (known as Epididymitis)
  • Swelling of the urethra (known as urethritis)
  • Swelling of non-sexual joints (elbow, knee, etc.)
  • Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding (after receiving anal sex)

STD symptoms in men usually take a few days to develop, but can take up to weeks (if there are symptoms at all). A lack of symptoms is often mistaken for a lack of an STD, but an infection can continue to progress even in the absence of symptoms. Because men so often don’t show symptoms, the only way to be sure that an STD is not present is to get tested regularly, especially after unprotected sex.

Resources

Medically Reviewed by J. Frank Martin JR., MD on Jun 18, 2019

Written by Nick Corlis on Jan 25, 2017

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Can STIs be prevented or avoided?

The only sure way to prevent STIs is by not having sex. If you have sex, you can lower your risk of getting an STI by only having sex with someone who isn’t having sex with anyone else and who doesn’t have an STI.

You should always use condoms when having sex, including oral and anal sex.

Do condoms prevent STIs?

Male latex condoms can reduce your risk of getting an STI if used correctly. Be sure to use them every time you have sex. Female condoms aren’t as effective as male condoms. However, you should use them when a man won’t use a male condom.

Remember, though, that condoms aren’t 100% safe. They can’t protect you from coming into contact with some sores (such as those that can occur with herpes) or warts (which can be caused by HPV infection).

How to use male condoms

  • Put the condom on before any contact is made.
  • Unroll the condom over an erect penis to the base of the penis. (Uncircumcised men should pull back their foreskin before unrolling.) The unrolled ring should be on the outside. Leave about 1/2 inch of space in the tip so semen can collect there. Squeeze the tip to get the air out.
  • Pull out after ejaculating and before the penis gets soft. To pull out, hold the rim of the condom at the base of the penis to make sure it doesn’t slip off.
  • Don’t reuse condoms.

How to use female condoms

  • Follow the directions on the condom package for correct placement. Be sure the inner ring goes as far into the vagina as it can. The outer ring stays outside the vagina.
  • Guide the penis into the condom.
  • After sex, remove the condom before standing up by gently pulling it out.
  • Don’t reuse condoms.

What else should I do to prevent STIs?

Limit the number of sex partners you have. Ask your partner if he or she has, or has had, an STI. Tell your partner if you have had one. Talk about whether you’ve both been tested for STIs and whether you should be tested.

Look for signs of an STI in your sex partner. But remember that STIs don’t always cause symptoms. Don’t have sex if you or your partner are being treated for an STI.

Wash your genitals with soap and water and urinate soon after you have sex. This may help clean away some germs before they have a chance to infect you.

Should I use a spermicide to help prevent STIs?

No. It was once thought that spermicides with nonoxynol-9 could help prevent STIs much like they help prevent pregnancy — by damaging the organisms that cause the diseases. New research has shown that nonoxynol-9 can irritate a woman’s vagina and cervix, actually increasing the risk of STI infection.

Be sure to check the ingredients of any other sex-related products you own, such as lubricants and condoms. Some brands of these products may have nonoxynol-9 added to them. If you are unsure if your spermicide or any other product contains nonoxynol-9, ask your doctor before using it.

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Salit IE, Khairnar K, Gough K, Pillai DR. A possible cluster of sexually transmitted Entamoeba histolytica: genetic analysis of a highly virulent strain. Clin Infect Dis 2009;49:346-353.

Stark D, van Hal SJ, Matthews G, Harkness J, Marriott D. Invasive amebiasis in men who have sex with men, Australia. Emerging Infectious Diseases 2008;14:1141-1143.

Baggaley RF, White RG, Boily MC. Systematic review of orogenital HIV-1 transmission probabilities. . International Journal of Epidemiology 2008;37:1255-1265.

Edwards S, Carne C. Oral sex and the transmission of viral STIs. . Sexually Transmitted Infections 1998;74:6-10.

Edwards SK, White C. HIV seroconversion illness after orogenital contact with successful contact tracing. International Journal of STD & AIDS 1995;6:50-51.

Lifson AR, O’Malley PM, Hessol NA, Buchbinder SP, Cannon L, Rutherford GW. HIV seroconversion in two homosexual men after receptive oral intercourse with ejaculation: implications for counseling concerning safe sexual practices. American Journal of Public Health 1990;80:1509-1511.

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Hawkins DA. Oral sex and HIV transmission. Sexually Transmitted Infections 2001;77:307-308.

Oral Chlamydia: Not a Sore Throat

Let’s clear one thing up; it is possible to get chlamydia in the throat. This is usually only possible if someone is giving oral sex to another person already infected with chlamydia. Oral chlamydia is not as common as genital chlamydia, but it is possible.

Chlamydia is a common and curable sexually transmitted disease (STD). It is caused by the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia can affect the cervix in women as well as the urethra and rectum in both men and women. The bacteria target the cells of the mucous membranes which aren’t covered by skin. These include the surfaces of the vagina, urethra, lining of the eyelid, and, the topic of this blog post, the throat.

When chlamydia occurs in the throat, it is considered a mouth infection. If there are symptoms (typically, there are none), they make it look a lot like tonsilitis. The infection causes white spots to appear in the back of the throat and can make it painful to swallow.

How do you get chlamydia in the mouth?

When oral sex is performed on infected genitals, the giver is at risk of contracting chlamydia in the throat. Oral sex involves using the mouth, lips, or tongue to stimulate the penis, vagina, or anus of a sexual partner.

The risk of getting an STD from oral sex depends on things like the particular STD, the sexual activity performed, and how common the STD is in the population to which the sex partners belong. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the risks of getting chlamydia in the throat increase if:

  • You are performing oral sex on a male that has an infected penis.
  • You are performing oral sex on a female that has an infected vagina or urinary tract.
  • You are performing oral sex on a male or female that has an infected rectum.

The opposite is also true. The risks of getting genital chlamydia are increased if:

  • You are receiving oral sex on the penis from a partner with chlamydia in the throat.
  • You are receiving oral sex on the vagina from a partner with chlamydia in the throat can result in chlamydia of the vagina or urinary tract.
  • You are receiving oral sex on the anus from a partner with chlamydia in the throat also might result in chlamydia in the rectum.

The infection can also be transferred from your fingers to other parts of your body, such as your eyes, nose, or mouth. Aside from sexual activities that easily spread chlamydia, there are a few other factors that will further increase your chances of getting this mouth infection.

The CDC states having poor oral health that results in tooth decay, gum disease (bleeding gums), or oral cancer increases the chances of acquiring the infection. This is due to a lowered immune system not being able to fight off both the oral hygiene infections and the invading chlamydia.

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Is oral chlamydia a common thing?

If you think that neither you nor your partner belong to a population where chlamydia can spread, think again.

In the United States, there are over 1.5 million cases of chlamydia reported each year. However, the CDC estimates that at least 3 million actually occurred. Why the disparity in the numbers? In a survey done in 2013, only 30% of sexually active people from 15-25 reported testing the previous year.

Remember the saying, “If you sleep with one person, you’re also sleeping with the five other people they’ve slept with, and the five other people each of those people have slept with.” The spider web never ends. This means that that person from the New Year’s party in 2016 that your partner’s first partner’s partner slept with, ended up (probably unknowingly) giving you and the next person you sleep with an STD. Imagine what the number of cases of chlamydia in the U.S. actually is if people tested for STDs as often as they should.

Many people believe that only those who “have a risky sex life” are likely to get STDs. The truth is anyone sexually active at all is at risk to contract an STD.

Of all the groups, teens and young adults have the highest rates of infection. The most common bacterial STD is chlamydia.

If we could remove the stigma attached to STD testing, we’d all be much more likely to get tested. The United States would be able to do a little better in sexual health education, slow down the rates of STDs, and catch up with the rest of the developed world.

Credit: Superdrug

Symptoms of Oral Chlamydia

Oral chlamydia infections affect the cells lining the throat. Most people with an oral chlamydia infection experience no symptoms, which leaves many unaware that they are infected. A true confirmation of oral chlamydia is only detected with testing.

For those that do experience symptoms, the most common symptom is a sore throat which lasts for several days. This discomfort can come and go, or it can be continually bothersome. Forget about drinking anything to make it better; just swallowing hurts too. A sore throat caused by chlamydia may be accompanied by a low-grade fever and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

Some other possible symptoms of oral chlamydia are:

  • Painless sores in the mouth
  • Lesions similar to cold sores around the mouth
  • Tonsillitis
  • Redness with white spots resembling strep throat
  • Scratchy, dry throat

The possible symptoms of genital chlamydia are:

  • Potentially bloody discharge from the vagina or penis
  • Burning feeling when urinating
  • Painful or swollen testicles
  • Rectal pain

Diagnosis & Treatment

Testing for oral chlamydia is usually done by swabbing the throat. After the diagnosis and confirmation, chlamydia can be cured with prescribed antibiotics. In order to avoid passing the STD to your partner and in turn giving yourself chlamydia again later, you should abstain from sex for the 7 days you are on antibiotics.

If caught early enough, chlamydia is easy to cure. The longer you go without treatment, the more likely it will go from mild to severe. Once it becomes severe, it can cause serious reactions in the body and make the healing process difficult, and, often times, the damage is irreversible.

If left untreated for too long:

STDs are not one of those illnesses that will just figure itself out. Not only will you spread chlamydia if you continue to have sex without treatment, but you can end up with some serious complications on your hands.

Chlamydia can cause reproductive complications in women. It can spread to and infect the uterus and fallopian tubes, resulting in infertility, miscarriage, premature birth, and stillbirth.

If the pregnancy reaches full term, there can be complications in newborns as well as the postpartum mother when chlamydia has gone untreated. Half of the newborns get conjunctivitis (chlamydia in the eye), and they can also get urethritis. Mothers can get nose, throat, lung, and/or ear infections.

In men, a progressed chlamydial infection can result in urethritis (inflammation of the urethra), inflammation of the prostate, and infertility.

It is also possible that chlamydia can cause a reaction throughout the body that causes arthritis (joint pain). Other possible repercussions are conjunctivitis (pink eye), proctitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane of the rectum from anal sex), open sores in the genital area, headache, fever, fatigue, lymphogranuloma venereum (swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin), and/or a rash on the soles of the feet or elsewhere.

How to avoid getting oral chlamydia

Be aware of the status of your new partner. We understand that this can be an uncomfortable conversation for some, so if you need help, check out our blog post for some tips.

Aside from talking to your partner about their status, you can also use protection, such as condoms. Not using protection is part of the reason why so many people end up with STDs like chlamydia. These precautions may not be seen as “fun,” but, if your sexual health is a concern, as it should be, the following are ways to protect yourself from getting oral chlamydia.

When engaging in oral sex on the penis, use a condom or another barrier method each and every time you have oral sex. When performing oral sex on the vagina or anus, use a dental dam or cut open a condom to make a square, then put it between the mouth and the partner’s vagina or anus.

Avoiding all forms of sex is really the only way to truly avoid getting an STD. If this doesn’t seem like a realistic route, you can lower your chances by being in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who is not infected with an STD.

Oral sex and STIs – what you need to know

So you know about using condoms to prevent pregnancy and contracting STIs during sexual intercourse, but what about using protection during oral sex?

Oral sex is any type of sexual activity where a person’s mouth, lips or tongue comes into contact with another person’s genitals or anus. Unlike sexual intercourse, pregnancy can’t result from having oral sex, but you should still use protection. Why? Some of the most common STIs in Queensland can be passed on through oral sex, and contracting them can have nasty consequences for you, an unborn child if you’re pregnant and your sexual partners, if you don’t get treated.

What STIs can I get from oral sex? Are they really that bad?

While the risk of contracting most STIs from oral sex is lower than for vaginal or anal sex, there is still the risk of transmission. STIs like chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhoea, syphilis and HPV can all be transmitted orally, meaning they can pass from one person’s mouth to their partner’s genitals or anus, or vice versa.

Some of these, like chlamydia, won’t always present symptoms straight away, but can cause ongoing health and fertility issues. Others, like herpes, can’t currently be cured, and will require lifelong, ongoing treatment.

HPV, or human papillomavirus, is well known for causing the development of abnormal cells that can lead to cervical cancer, but can also cause mouth and throat cancer.

How can I protect myself from STIs during oral sex?

Condoms and dental dams can be used to protect all parties involved in oral sex. Condoms should be placed completely covering the penis. Condoms need to be thrown away after each use and changed between having oral sex and penetrative sex.

Dental dams can be used to cover the vulva and vagina or anus. Dental dams can be purchased, or made by cutting the tip and the ring off a regular condom, then cutting the condom open and laying it flat. Don’t create dental dams out of condoms which use spermicide, as this shouldn’t be ingested. Dental dams should also be used only once then thrown away.

There are other steps you can take to protect yourself from STIs during oral sex, including:

  • not having oral sex if you have cuts or sores in or near your mouth, have a sore throat, or a mouth or throat infection
  • not having sex (even with a condom) if your partner has a visible sore, ulcer or lump on their genitals, anal area or mouth
  • for men: ejaculate outside of your partner’s mouth
  • avoid brushing or flossing teeth right before oral sex.

What should I do if I think I have an STI from giving or receiving oral sex?

If you are sexually active, you should have a sexual health check at least every year regardless of whether or not you have any STI symptoms. You can request this from your doctor, Aboriginal Medical Services, some community-based testing sites or visit a sexual health clinic. You can also order a free chlamydia test kit online.

If you think you may have contracted an STI from having oral sex, have any symptoms of STIs on your genitals, anus, mouth or throat, or are worried after having unprotected oral sex, book in for a sexual health check immediately. Once you know whether or not you have an STI, you can begin treatment if necessary.

If you have contracted an STI, you should tell any current and past sexual partners, so that they can be checked as well. This can certainly be a scary conversation to have with a partner but it’s an important one to help protect them and any of their future partners. You can do this yourself, or use services like Let Them Know, The Drama Down Under or Better to Know to pass on the information anonymously. Talk to your doctor about who you need to tell and how to tell them, or read the Queensland Government guidelines on contact tracing.

More information about sexual health

It’s important that all people who are sexually active, or thinking about becoming sexually active, are aware of their sexual health and how to take care of it. You can find more information about sexual health at the links below.

Let’s talk about sex, baby! Your ultimate guide to sexual health

Queensland Government: Sexual health

Std symptoms in females

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